Although, I had heard much about the Global Virtual Classroom Project, (GVC Project), which was founded by Janet Barnstable, my classes have not been involved before due to the nature of our school years. The original projects spanned 6 months but as schools in Australia enjoyed their long 5 week summer break and then started a new school year, it was impossible for me to have a consistent class that could complete the project.
However, a mini-project was introduced this year and this was more manageable for the school calendar. It did span across semester 1 and 2, and my ICT elective students changed over this time, but we were able to participate due to the willingness of our partner school and teacher Yunchai Chen, Wunshan Senior High School,Kaohsiung, Taiwan to condense the project to fit in with the first term of our semester 2.
What I liked about the project:
- strong support from the leadership team of Janet Barnstable USA and Lakshmi Srinivas of India.
- being partnered with a school in a similar time zone. We could actually communicate virtually in real time using skype
- Yunchai Chen had been part of the project before and was therefore experienced.
- the tools used were user friendly and free
- the project was flexible to fit in with specific needs
- students in Taiwan and Australia could choose their own global topic. They chose Oceans
- an awards process to acknowledge work completed
Both countries are islands. As we live 25 minutes drive to the closest ocean and seas, and as our beaches are beautiful, students felt comfortable with the topic and had some basic knowledge. As the Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s big tourist destinations, Warrnambool’s Logan beach is a nursery for the Great Southern Whales and Port Fairy is a nearby quaint village (which started out as a whalers station), the students had plenty of scope for ideas.
The tools used:-
- email for teacher correspondence
- edmodo for sharing of conversations, files and other needs (student and teacher use)
- google sites – was chosen by Yunchai and me to display the student outcomes
- skype for synchronous virtual connections
- Windows MovieMaker to produce the videos – my student choice
The time frame was tight – approximately 6 weeks, but this gave students a sense of real time pressures that they may face in the work place. Three students produced videos – Tim’s was on Ocean Life in SE Australia; Port Fairy, Bethany’s favourite beach and Sophie chose to produce a movie on the Great Ocean Road.
To the delight of the students, a silver award certificate was granted for the collaborative Oceans project. Our certificate can be seen below.